I happened to pick up some arugula at the farmer's market, and found the flavor far more delicate than the arugula I normally find at the supermarket. (I guess this has something to do with age?) Anyway, the resulting pesto works wonders on sandwiches, over pasta, or on pizza. I roast the garlic and toast the hazelnuts, and make sure to use good quality olive oil. —Cristina Sciarra
Test Kitchen Notes
This pesto's flavor is as bright as its color! I found it unexpectedly tart, and yet I couldn't resist dipping little bits of bread in it every time I walked by the bowl. Tossed with warm spaghetti, its flavor smooths out, allowing the peppery arugula and roasted garlic to shine through. The pecorino and hazelnuts are the mellow background notes in this decidedly jazzy pesto. The flavors married further after just a couple of hours in the refrigerator -- I bet it's perfect on eggs the next morning. —Marti Kennedy
Roast the garlic cloves. (I rub the cloves in a little bit of olive oil, wrap them in aluminum foil, and toss them into a 350F oven for about 20 minutes. However, if you are cooking something else in the oven the day of or night before, use the heat of that oven to roast the cloves.) Peel the cloves, and let them cool.
Toast the hazelnuts. (You can do this as you roast the garlic, if you like. I keep the hazelnuts in a 350F oven for 10-12 minutes, shaking them around in the pan once or twice during cooking. Remove them from the oven when they are light brown in spots and smell fragrant.) Wait for them to cool.
I use a microplane grater to shred the Pecorino. Grate enough to fill 1/2 cup, not at all packed. If you use a larger-holed cheese grater, stop somewhere between 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup.
Move the cooled hazelnuts to a food processor. Pulse for about 1 minute, or until the hazelnuts are reduced to the texture of sand.
Add the arugula, the garlic, the Pecorino, the lemon juice, the salt, and a healthy crack of black pepper to the food processor. Blend for about a minute, slowly adding the olive oil as it whirs. Stop when you achieve a creamy texture.
Use the pesto as you like. It lasts a good few days, covered, in the refrigerator.
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at theroamingkitchen.com.